Pawlenty: We shouldn't 'play into' birtherism

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) on Tuesday urged political figures not to "play into" false rumors that President Obama was not born in the United States. 

Pawlenty, a likely presidential candidate, said Obama's opponents should focus their criticisms on his policies, not his birth certificate.

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"I, for one, believe we should not be raising that issue in the sense that President Obama was born in the United States," Pawlenty said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "I question his policies ... I don't play into that."

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who has said he is interested in running for president as a Republican, has continuously questioned Obama's place of birth. 

Pawlenty said of Trump: "I think he's talented, I think he's funny, I think he's interesting," and that, "he might be" a serious candidate. But when asked about Trump's statements about Obama's birth certificate, he rejected them.

Pawlenty has said that he believes correctly that the president was born in the U.S. and is a citizen, but his comments are some of the most expansive about the role of so-called "birtherism" on the campaign trail.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, the former governor explained that he believes Obama was born in the U.S., but used that to launch into an attack on Obama.

"But when you listen to his policies, don’t you at least wonder what planet he’s from? On what planet do they create jobs by taxing the daylight out of people trying to grow jobs? On what planet do they try to reduce the deficit by spending even more? On what planet do they make healthcare better by putting bureaucrats in charge?" he said.

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